HARRISONBURG, Va. – The James Madison University baseball team used quality pitching and a solid offensive attack to sweep a doubleheader from visiting Hartford, 10-2 and 6-2, March 2. With the wins, the Dukes improved to 5-6 overall, while the Hawks fell to 0-7.
In the opening seven-inning game, Hartford posted one in the first, as a throwing error by JMU allowed leadoff hitter Adam Touhey to score and give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. However, JMU answered with a score of their own in the bottom of the inning, as senior Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) led off with a single and stole second. Junior Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) later doubled down the left field line to score Bladel and knot the game at one.
JMU struck again in the second, as senior Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glendale (Jefferson College)) singled to left to open the inning. After Goss moved to second on sophomore Tyler Dukes’ (Troutville, Va./James River)sacrifice bunt, freshman Bobby San Martin (Fairfax, Va./Centreville) made his first hit of his college career count with a two-run shot over the right center fence to put the Dukes up 3-1. Madison then took advantage of three Hartford errors in the third to put up another two runs and extend the lead to 5-1 through three.
Starter redshirt-sophomore Luke Drayer (Hummelstown, Pa./Hershey) escaped a major threat in the top of the fourth, as Hartford put the first two batters on base and eventually had the bases loaded with two down. However, Drayer got Ryan Lukach out at third on a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
The Dukes continued the offensive output the remainder of the game, scoring runs in the fifth and the sixth, capped by Goss’ bases-loaded triple that put JMU up 10-2 through six innings.
Drayer moved to 2-0 on the season, going five innings and scattering six hits and one earned run while striking out three. Freshman Mark Gunst (Fairfax, Va./Paul VI)came on in relief and pitched a pair of scoreless innings, giving up just one hit while striking out two. Sean Newcomb took the loss, giving up five hits and five runs, three of them earned, while striking out five and walking three in three innings of work.
Brown and redshirt-junior Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) were each 3-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored, while Goss was 2-for-3 with 3 RBI and one run scored.
In the nightcap, it was a pitcher’s duel through the first three-and-a-half innings, with both teams managing a single run in that time. However, Madison exploded in the fourth for five runs to take control of the game. With one down, junior Tyler Gregory (Dothan, Ala./Houston Academy (Wallace CC)), Goss and senior Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) put together consecutive singles to load the bases. Senior Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) then singled to the pitcher to bring in Gregory with the first run. Junior Nick Merullo (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) followed it with a single down the left field line to bring in Goss and McInturff. Junior Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) capped off the scoring with a double down the left field line to score Shaban and Merullo and give the Dukes a 6-1 lead.
Hartford managed a single run in the fifth but was shut out from the board in the final four innings, getting just one hit in that span.
Starter freshman Michael Church (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) picked up his first collegiate victory and moved to 1-1, going five innings and giving up five hits and two earned runs. Sophomore Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) picked up his save, going three innings and allowing just one hit while striking out six.
Goss was again a standout in the second game, going 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored.
The four-game series wraps at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park, with Madison trying to go for the sweep.